Whether you call them dummies, soothers or, in the case of our American cousins, a pacifier, the fact remains the same: they can be a real sanity-saver when it comes to soothing a fretful baby. And, usually sitting at somewhere around the £5 to £10 mark, they are among the cheapest baby products on the market, while still providing a valuable service.
Many parents are adamantly against their baby using a dummy for a variety of reasons, but with a few guidelines on how to get the best out of them, they can be a really useful inclusion in your arsenal against sleeplessness and discomfort — they’re soothed, you can actually get some shut-eye, everyone’s a winner.
Many of the fears new parents have around dummy use relate to problems associated with long-term use, such as ‘nipple confusion’ or issues with tooth development. If you’re worried about the latter, opt for an orthodontic dummy which has a flat, rather than cherry-shaped teat, and encourages baby to suck in the same non-disruptive way they would while breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding, follow the official UNICEF advice and wait until they’re around a month old, when they should have the whole feeding thing figured out, before you give them a dummy.
When buying a dummy, be sure to look for a sturdily made one that won’t come apart in your baby’s mouth and risk choking. All of our picks are made from the standard silicone, which is stronger and longer-lasting than latex, although if you wish to go for the more flexible latex dummy, there are plenty on the market. Finally, babies aren’t particularly renowned for their ability to notice things that are potentially harmful to them, so be sure to keep a close eye on their dummy and every so often check for cracks and splits that might harbour germs and result in an unpleasant tummy bug.
1. WubbaNub Infant Pacifier
A comforting dummy-meets-soft-toy
Best for: Comforting | Material: Silicone | Dishwasher-safe: No
This pioneering pacifier is the perfect solution to the dreaded “lost dummy” scenario, and the secret to its success is its adorable animal companion. Along with the unique design that stops the dummy from getting misplaced or forgotten, the WubbaNub earns our top spot with its durable one-piece dummy that, with no seams, nooks or crannies, gives germs nowhere to hide. Choose from a range of animal designs for a dummy that’ll both soothe your child and give them a new friend to cuddle. A little pricey, but simply fab.
2. MAM Night Glow in The Dark Soother
This easy-to-find soother is perfect for pre- and post- night-time feed
Best for: Night-time | Material: Silicone | Dishwasher-safe: No
These glow in the dark dummies have an adorable motif that gives off a gentle luminescence, a solution that means no fumbling in the dark if your child has a tendency to spit out their dummy in the night. The extremely soft silicone teat is soothing, while the curved shield with its included air holes keep little cheeks ventilated and irritation-free, making this the best dummy for night-time use on our list.
3. Philips AVENT Soother
This orthodontic pacifier comes highly recommended and looks smart and discreet
Best for: Best orthodontic dummy | Material: Silicone | Dishwasher-safe: No
The collapsible teat of this Philips dummy is designed in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with the natural development of the teeth, gums or palate, meaning added peace of mind for parents and comfort for little ones. The clear plastic shield has ventilation holes to allow air to reach the skin around baby’s mouth and avoid rashes, looks very discreet, and stays looking clean and tidy for longer than some more decorative dummies. A wonderful practical choice.
4. NUK Genius Silicone Soother
The name says it all: a bite-proof, naturally-shaped teat for minimum interference
Best for: Breastfeeding babies | Material: Silicone | Dishwasher-safe: No
This dentist-approved soother simulates the shape of a nipple during breastfeeding, so it not only plays nicely with baby’s developing jaw and teeth, it’s more likely they’ll accept it as a substitute rather than scream the place down with displeasure at being duped. The soft teat is flexible, yet sturdy enough to resist biting, and the strengthened contours and air holes keep safety and comfort at the forefront. A very good buy for parents worried about the potential for nipple confusion.
5. MAM Style I Love Mummy and Daddy Soother
Comfortable and with a cute design, this travel-friendly dummy has it all
Best for: Travel | Material: Silicone | Dishwasher-safe: No
The dummies in this cute twin-pack have a special curved shape that keeps baby’s cheeks dry and rash-free, and an extra-soft silicone teat for comfort, as well as supporting the correct development of their teeth and jaw. What really earns it its spot on our list though is its ability to travel — the dummies come in a fully sterilisable travel case that’s just right for popping in a nappy bag for long days out or suitcase for holidays.
6. The First Years 2 Pack GumDrop Newborn Pacifier
These medically-approved dummies keep airways clear for peace of mind
Best for: Keeping nose clear | Material: Silicone | Dishwasher-safe: No
These petite dummies are distributed in hospitals thanks to their cleverly shaped one-piece design that steers clear of baby’s nose, presenting no risk of blocking the airway while they’re happily sucking away. The narrower than average teat is also a bonus for smaller babies who may not get on with standard-sized dummies, with some reviewers saying these are the only dummies their very little ones will take to. Fussy baby? Give one of these a try.
While you're buying for baby, why not check out our list of 2017's best baby essentials here?